We should not judge people by their peak of excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Istanbul and Indian cities

I had a chance to visit Istanbul, one of the greatest cities in the world on the occasion of VLDB conference. Conference was for 5 days, while I roamed around rest 6 days exploring nooks and corners of the city. I was enthralled by this global city and the life it offered.

Cities are a vision of its rulers. Constantinopole as it was called when Roman empire Constantine ruled it was always a center of attraction for different empires starting from Byzentine empire, Roman empire, Ottoman empire. Ottoman empire named it Istanbul, meaning the ¨city of Islam¨. Istanbul is a unique city to be located on two continents, Europe and Asia. It controls one of the busiest sea routes connecting ship movement through bospohorous from Marmara sea to the black sea. It generates 25% of Turkeyƛ GDP and is a home to around 13 million residents.

I was amazed by the historical monuments boasted by city in terms of grandiose mosques. These historical monuments stand side by side with the modern culture. I felt sad for many of the Indian cities which have ruined their hostorical heritage due to neglect. A majority of the population has Islam as religion, however the city is exceptionally modern with a feeling of being in any American cities from the perspective of youth culture. Transportation network which consists of metro, trams, buses, funicular, railways, taxis offers plenty of options.

The poverty which is a ubiquitous scene in any Indian city seemed almost non-existent in the first look. I explored both upscale elite and quite poor neighborhoods and  was amazed by the infrastructure. The city is clean, people are well mannered and helpful, and women are respected and free.

Turkey is a developing country. India is a developing country too. However, being in Istanbul offers a different vision of being in developing mode. Often Indian cities are compared to be aspiring for cities like Beijing. I thought why not aspire to be like Istanbul? Being a developed city is a distant dream for any Indian city. It needs guts and vision to be developed. All the talks seems extremely hypocritical. I think better aspiration is to be like Istanbul. A city which offers freedom, culture, modern and a great cosmopolitan outlook.

I think I learned a great deal from this city and will cherish the moments, I spent while gazing at the Bosphorous while seeping Turkish tea and thinking about various thoughts. From why sea containers sail to how light is reflected from distant sources on sea water, to visions of great emperors. Here is a small selected collection of snaps from the city.

Thank you Istanbul.

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